New sign draws instant attention

Burns Lake business owner to defend ‘offensive’ sign before permit.

Village of Burns Lake council will have to decide on the future of this sign

Village of Burns Lake council will have to decide on the future of this sign

Gwyndolyn Nicholas, owner of downtown Burns Lake business Health in Order, recently replaced the sign on her building with one that delivers a message.

The new sign, which reads ‘Pure Water. Wild Salmon. No Enbridge pipeline,’ and is emblazoned with the Lakes District Clean Waters Coalition (LDCWC) logo, has come under scrutiny of the Village of Burns Lake.

On July 10, 2013, Burns Lake by-law enforcement officer Jim McBride, delivered a notice to Nicholas informing her that the sign, hung four days previously, was put up without following required village procedures for sign permits.

At the same time, Nicholas was also informed that two members of the public had complained that the sign was offensive.

The public complaints automatically triggered a review by the Village of Burns Lake. Nicholas has until Aug. 9, 2013 to respond in writing to the complaint.

Currently, the village has not asked that the sign be removed. It is Nicholas’ understanding that the sign may remain until a final decision is made.

Nicholas said that she wasn’t aware that she needed a permit to replace her old sign. She will include an application with her letter of defence.

Nicholas is an active member of the LDCWC and her store acts as a local hub for information regarding the work of the Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research in Smithers, B.C. Her store also maintains merchandise in support of Skeena Wild, a Terrace B.C. based conservation organization.

She said the sign is very much in line with her personal concerns and the concerns of the LDCWC regarding the proximity of the proposed Enbridge pipeline to Burns Lake.

Recent plans indicate that the pipeline would cross under the narrows just west of town.

“I’m not comfortable with Enbridge’s response to safety concerns surrounding the proximity of the pipeline to Burns Lake,” Nicholas said.

Those concerns, along with a general dissatisfaction with Enbridge’s performance during the recently concluded Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel (JRP) and further concerns that the federal government intends to green-light the pipeline with or without JRP approval, were at the source of her decision to put up the sign.

According to Village of Burns Lake Chief Administrative Officer, Sheryl Worthing, the village is simply asking the property owner to comply with local sign regulation by-laws.

The complaints received by the village were not anonymous (the village does not accept anonymous complaints), but they will be kept confidential.

Worthing confirmed that the final decision will be up to village council. A village staff report will be prepared once the application for a new sign is received.

“Given that we received a complaint on the sign, we are required to [have a] review,” said Worthing. “The sign applicant will be required to submit a letter of appeal.  If council deems the sign to be non-offensive the sign permit will be approved.”